Internet Archive Preserves Ten Petabytes

The Internet Archive is a really cool org. They recently announced they have archived ten petabytes of cultural material. 1 Petabyte = 1,048,576 GB. Think about that for a moment. Humanity is creating and exchanging data at an alarming rate. In just a few more years this number will unquestionably be dwarfed.

This data will be of value in the future to analyze how the Internet impacted society today. We’ve yet to develop the tools to really parse data that big for things that aren’t quantitative.

Windows 8 Is Here

Windows 8 has launched, and it’s been quite silent. Not many seem to even care. Every media outlet has some coverage, but it’s hardly the buzz that Apple even got for their latest upgrade. Certainly not the buzz iOS 6 got. Sign of the times.

I’ve got 2 computers that currently run Windows 7. I think at least one will be upgrading to Windows 8 in the next week or two, I just haven’t decided which will be the one to go first. It’s not a bad OS in my experimentation, the UI takes some getting used to, but otherwise it’s really not bad. Do I “like” it? Not terribly much, but I didn’t “like” Windows 7 either.

Upgrading before January 31 is discounted to $40, worth taking advantage of if you can.

When Is It Really “Open Source”

From Phoronix:

Up to this point the graphics driver for the BCM2835 and its VideoCore processor found in the Raspberry Pi was backed by an open-source kernel driver but a closed-source user-space. Today — through cooperation with Broadcom — the Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to release the user-space bits to to this driver. Therefore there was then a full open-source ARM graphics driver with OpenGL ES 2.0, EGL, OpenMAX IL, etc. The one caveat though was that a firmware blob must be loaded at boot.
..
It turns out that Broadcom shoved much more into their firmware binary blob than just some basic setup routines and other non-critical tasks. Broadcom’s OpenGL ES (GLES) implementation is even lodged within this GPU driver firmware.

I’m not really sure it’s “open source” when you cram all the good parts into a binary blob. Essentially what they did was make the API slightly more open. I’m a bit disappointed at Broadcom. I’m a big fan of the Raspberry Pi, I own 2 already. However I’d like to see it open enough that it can improve and grow software wise.

New Apple Products

2012 iMac

The Apple announcements to me were somewhat of a mixed bag.

iMac

I love the new iMac design, with the exception of the omitted optical media. A computer that slim with such a great display deserves to be usable as a media center. Otherwise it’s actually a great computer at a good price. If you think about it, not only do you get a pretty good computer, you get a great display in an amazing setup. It looks great.

13″ MacBook Pro

Retina displays on the 15″ MacBook Pro are awesome, however it seems many find the fonts especially to be too small and end up lowering the resolution to make things easier on the eyes and thus defeating the advantage of that great display. I’m not sure that a 13″ MacBook Pro is going to do much better in that regard. The other gripe I have with it over, aside for the lack of optical media which I still find useful is only having Intel HD Graphics 4000 and no discrete graphics. While the Intel graphics aren’t terrible, they aren’t amazing either. Given the number of pixels on that screen, and that price tag, I’d like something a little more powerful driving it.

iPad Mini / iPad 4

The iPad Mini is slightly more expensive than most people thought it would be. It’s however a rather good looking device with some great specs for the price. I think for the slightly higher premium you get a much better product and ecosystem than you do with the competition. Well worth spending just a little more. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is how it would actually feel. The iPad’s size is really part of it’s charm. It doesn’t feel like a phone, it feels like a substantial device. Yet another reason why I’ll need to take a trip to an Apple Store soon and play with one.

The iPad 4 is also quite impressive. Ars believes it’s based on the 32nm process. They also think it’s clocked at 1.5GHz and on the GPU side is still using the PowerVR SGX543 cores just clocked at 500 MHz up from 250 MHz. We don’t know for certain, but this sounds very plausible and I’m inclined to agree.

Efficency End To End

From The Economist:

ENGINES on airliners are highly efficient when they are in flight, but not when operating on the ground. When a plane is taxiing under its own power, the engines burn vast amounts of fuel. A Boeing 747 can consume a tonne of fuel and emit several tonnes of carbon dioxide during an average 17-minute taxi to take-off. And when the aircraft lands there is likely to be another long drive to the passenger gate. Which is why there are various methods being developed for aircraft to use other means of propulsion while moving around an airport.

If you think about it, this was an area ripe for innovation for a long time now. Obviously having a second engine for taxi purposes on board is ruled out for weight and space reasons. Something external is obvious since these negatives are shed when it’s detached. Since engines would only need to start shortly before takeoff it would also mean less noise at airports.

It’s interesting that in engineering you focus on the primary use case and make it efficient. Once you’re done you continue to refine and make it more efficient. The folly is when you forget about other low hanging fruit near the edge cases, in this case when the plane is on the ground. While not a huge savings, it can potentially add up.

High Speed Sports

Baseball at 5,000 FPS is pretty interesting stuff:

Davies says the camera is a Vision Research v642, which shoots high-def video and is regularly used to cover baseball games. But last night’s was specially modified by a company called Inertia Unlimited to shoot at an extra high frame rate and customized to use a Canon 200 mm 2.0 lens that allowed for an extra stop or two of light.

Physics of Baseball has a few GIF’s demonstrating just how awesome this really is. I’d love to see this demonstrated even beyond baseball. I’d imagine Football, Soccer, also being quite interesting to see. A kick at that speed and detail for example.

Your Beverage Ice Is Dirtier Than Toilet Water

You may want to consider ordering your drink without ice next time you’re at a fast food restaurant (or any place):

“I found that 70-percent of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurant’s contain more bacteria than the fast food restaurant’s toilet water,” Roberts told local station 10 News in Tampa.

How did that happen?

The reason that the bacteria was more prevalent in the ice could be that while toilets are cleaned regularly, ice machines are not.

This really isn’t terribly surprising. In addition to regular cleaning, toilets are intentionally made of glazed porcelain because bacteria has trouble latching onto it. It’s worth noting bacteria is all around you and almost unquestionably that bacteria in question, while plentiful is not likely to cause any health issues.

It’s still an interesting observation.